April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici [NOOK Book]


One of the world's leading historians of Renaissance Italy brings to life here the vibrant?and violent?society of fifteenth-century Florence. His disturbing narrative opens up an entire culture, revealing the dark side of Renaissance man and politician Lorenzo de' Medici.
On a Sunday in April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo and his brother as they attended Mass in the cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo scrambled to safety as Giuliano bled to death on the cathedral floor. April ...

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April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici

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One of the world's leading historians of Renaissance Italy brings to life here the vibrant—and violent—society of fifteenth-century Florence. His disturbing narrative opens up an entire culture, revealing the dark side of Renaissance man and politician Lorenzo de' Medici.
On a Sunday in April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo and his brother as they attended Mass in the cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo scrambled to safety as Giuliano bled to death on the cathedral floor. April Blood moves outward in time and space from that murderous event, unfolding a story of tangled passions, ambition, treachery, and revenge. The conspiracy was led by one of the city's most noble clans, the Pazzi, financiers who feared and resented the Medici's swaggering new role as political bosses—but the web of intrigue spread through all of Italy. Bankers, mercenaries, the Duke of Urbino, the King of Naples, and Pope Sixtus IV entered secretly into the plot. Florence was plunged into a peninsular war, and Lorenzo was soon fighting for his own and his family's survival.
The failed assassination doomed the Pazzi. Medici revenge was swift and brutal—plotters were hanged or beheaded, innocents were hacked to pieces, and bodies were put out to dangle from the windows of the government palace. All remaining members of the larger Pazzi clan were forced to change their surname, and every public sign or symbol of the family was expunged or destroyed.
April Blood offers us a fresh portrait of Renaissance Florence, where dazzling artistic achievements went side by side with violence, craft, and bare-knuckle politics. At the center of the canvas is the figure of Lorenzo the Magnificent—poet, statesman, connoisseur, patron of the arts, and ruthless "boss of bosses." This extraordinarily vivid account of a turning point in the Italian Renaissance is bound to become a lasting work of history.

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Editorial Reviews

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The story of Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–92) has been retold countless times, but seldom as insightfully as in this brilliant narrative. Renowned Renaissance scholar Lauro Martines presents the history of the thwarted Pazzi Conspiracy against the Medicis by placing Lorenzo the Magnificent within the context of his times. With compelling detail and drama, Martines traces the murderous plot back to its sources: conniving bankers, priests, and politicians hell-bent on exterminating the Florentine rulers.
Publishers Weekly
One April Sunday in 1478, assassins-with the support of a member of the Pazzi, one of Florence's leading families-killed a member of the ruling family of Florence, Giuliano de Medici, and wounded his brother, Lorenzo. In the hands of Martines, a professor emeritus of European history at UCLA, the rebellion and Lorenzo's ensuing crackdown becomes a prism through which to view Renaissance Florence. He details the many people involved, from bankers to the king of Naples and even Pope Sixtus. Long seen as a "Renaissance man," Lorenzo was a poet and a patron of the arts. But Martines turns the story on its head. He sees the plot as a reaction to the corruption in Medici rule and the crackdown-which included hangings and prohibitions against marrying female members of the Pazzi family-as overly harsh: "[I]t required war or a successful act of terrorism to overthrow Lorenzo, his cronies, and his creatures." While the crackdown temporarily saved the Medici rule, Martines argues that Lorenzo's ruthlessness eventually turned much of Florence against his family and foretold the end of Medici rule in the city. During the past few decades, historians have increasingly placed social, cultural and women's history at the center of European history. But not here. Drawing upon a lifetime of scholarship, Martines has created a book that places governmental politics at Renaissance Florence's center. And along the way, he has written a book as lively as its subject. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A distinguished historian who has produced several fundamental studies of the social and political history of Renaissance Italy, Martines here focuses on the Pazzi Conspiracy. On a Sunday in April 1478, the chief business rivals of the powerful political Medici clan tried to murder Lorenzo de'Medici and his brother, Giuliano, at High Mass in Florence. Giulinao was killed, and Lorenzo wreaked a terrible reprisal-the conspirators were executed, their bodies mutilated, their property confiscated, the Pazzi name blotted out. Martines situates the plot within both the commercial and the political cultures of Florence and the international web of intrigue involving Milan, Naples, and the papacy. He has expert understanding of the complex field and a complete control of the sources, and the result is an elegant and insightful account. Research libraries will want to acquire this first comprehensive narrative of the dramatic incident; general collections will want it for the important business, ecclesiastical, and political story it tells. Highly recommended.-Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid, dramatic account of conspiracy and murder in 15th-century Florence. One of the most illustrious dynasties of the Renaissance, the Medici began their ascension in a city-state reeling from debt and high taxes after years of expensive warfare. Within three generations, they had established a merchant bank and a commodities empire that made them the richest family in Florence. Through brilliant political machinations--Machiavelli is generally supposed to have been inspired by them when he wrote The Prince--they became the leaders of the so-called Florentine republic. The Medici dynasty culminated in Lorenzo the Magnificent; aggressive and ruthless, he was also a brilliant poet and a lavish patron who commissioned works from great artists and composers of the day. Lorenzo’s tyranny inevitably fostered discontent and cabal. Members of the Pazzi, an older Florentine family resentful of the parvenu Medici, attempted to assassinate Lorenzo in the city’s cathedral on an April Sunday in 1478. They failed but managed to kill his younger brother Giuliano. An enraged Lorenzo struck back, and through a virtuoso admixture of murder and legislation virtually eliminated the Pazzi’s existence. Renaissance historian Martines (Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy, not reviewed) tells the story with a breathless enthusiasm that is infectious. He has walked the Florentine streets and buildings many times, conveying the agreeable impression of a personal tour. This story is not for the squeamish, however. It was a hideously violent era, and Martines does not flinch when describing the gruesome punishments meted out to the Pazzi conspirators and their innocent relatives. The onlyminor flaw occurs in the chapter describing the attempted assassination, where the unnecessary reintroduction of the main players suggests that the author originally intended it as the first chapter. History as it should be: informative but also lively, thrilling, and hugely entertaining. History Book Club main selection
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195348439
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,162,473
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Lauro Martines, former Professor of European History at the University of California, Los Angeles, is renowned for his books on the Italian Renaissance. The author of Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy, and most recently of Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the Italian Renaissance, he reviews for The Times Literary Supplement and lives in London with his wife, novelist Julia O'Faolain.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 Conspiracy 7
2 Social Climbers 25
3 Profile: Manetti 54
4 The Pazzi Family 62
5 Profile: Soderini 83
6 Enter Lorenzo 88
7 April Blood 111
8 Assaulting the Body: 'Cannibalism' 138
9 A Soldier Confesses 150
10 Raging: Pope and Citizen 174
11 The Pazzi Cursed 197
12 Profile: Rinuccini 214
13 Lorenzo: Lord and Citizen 221
14 The Bottom Line 251
Notes 263
Bibliography 282
Index 293
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